Post-Surgery Information

Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

After your surgery, you will be transferred to the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) for recovery. The recovery nurses will care for you, and you will remain here until discharge or until you are moved to an inpatient room. Visitation to the PACU is limited, and must be arranged with the recovery nurse.

What to Expect in PACU:

  • A nurse will be available to monitor your pain control, surgical site and vital signs, and give you any medications ordered by your physician.
  • Your family can see you as soon as you are fully awake (this could take up to one hour after surgery). You are allowed to have two visitors at a time for a brief period. Most patients stay in the PACU for approximately two hours.
  • If you are in pain, please tell the nurses, so they can help make you comfortable.
  • From the PACU, you will either be discharged home, or you will be transferred into an inpatient unit.


  • Once you are awake, alert, have a tolerable pain level, and can be transferred from stretcher to chair, you will be allowed to be discharged home.
  • Your nurse will assist you in getting dressed.
  • Make sure you have a responsible adult to drive or to accompany you home. We recommend that person should be available to stay with you for 24 to48 hours after the surgery. You will not be permitted to leave alone.
  • Any discharge instructions and prescriptions will be given in writing to the adult assisting in taking you home.
  • The adult taking you home will be asked to bring the vehicle to the main entrance, where you will be taken in a wheel chair. We will help you into the vehicle.


If you require more care, you will be transferred into an inpatient unit, where you will be carefully monitored.

  • You may have a Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) pump, a machine that lets you control the amount of pain medication you can give yourself as soon as you are able.
  • If you are admitted to the hospital and have a CPAP machine for sleep apnea, have a family member bring it for you.
  • You may be given a special diet or clear liquids immediately after surgery. Your care team will discuss when you will be ready for solid foods.
  • Family members may visit during each unit's established visiting hours. View more information about visitors and guests.
  • There may be a delay before a bed is available, because our hospital often is at full capacity, but we will make every effort to move you from the PACU and into your room soon after surgery.

Pain Management

  • Your surgeon can provide you with information and instructions of how to deal with your pain post surgery. He or she can also provide you with pain management medications, if deemed appropriate.
  • Please download the pain management pamphlet for more details.

Contact Us
If you have any questions, please call the Admission Testing Center (ATC) at 202-877-7169.